Let’s celebrate Elephant Appreciation Day

    26 Sep 2021

    The largest land mammals on Earth are at the most significant risk of complete extinction through human actions – poaching and legal hunting; capturing elephants for circuses for everyday torture in captivity to please deceived spectators; destruction of their habitat.

    On September 22 we celebrate Elephant Appreciation Day. It was established in 1996​. Publisher Wayne Hepburn started it all after an elephant paperweight gift sparked his interest.

    Created by Mission Media, a graphics and publishing company, the day’s origins largely depend on owner Wayne Hepburn’s personal fascination with elephants. His interest, in turn, began when he received an elephant paperweight as a gift from his daughter. Despite its somewhat ridiculous back story, the day has received some official recognition.

    That said, elephants are undoubtedly worthy of some appreciation from all of us. They are, after all, the largest land mammals in the world and sadly, many species of elephants face the threat of extinction due to environmental factors and the ivory trade.

    The pending extinction of African elephants is a global crisis that needs to be solved today. Driven by the illegal trade, 30% of the continent’s elephants have been slaughtered in seven years. On current trends, when today’s children reach adulthood, African elephants will be extinct in the wild. The elephant poaching crisis exists because there is insufficient funding for implementing effective, professional and organized law enforcement in most African elephant range-states.

    Wildlife Alliance is a global leader in Direct Protection of Forests and Wildlife and has a successful track-record of focused interventions halting species extinctions. Its solution focuses on tackling corruption and implementing direct on-the-ground law enforcement by motivated and well managed rangers across six countries at the forefront of the poaching crisis. They try to halt elephant poaching, allowing conservation to leverage funding for continent-wide implementation, thus securing the future of Africa’s elephants.



    Elephant Appreciation Day is a great time to give these majestic and beautiful creatures the respect they deserve. Elephants are the largest land mammals on Earth, so it’s only right that they have a day entirely dedicated to them. Sadly, humans are increasingly placing the elephant’s future at risk. So, whether you’re a lifelong elephant lover or not, take time on September 22 to learn about these amazing pachyderms.

    Why elephant appreciation day is important

    They’re endangered

    Hunting has severely reduced the number of elephants left in the world. Thankfully, organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund and the International Elephant Foundation are working hard to protect African and Asian elephants.

    They’re emotional

    Pay attention to an elephant for a little while, and it’ll be easy to feel connected. Elephants can display fear, joy, excitement, and even grief. They’re also very social, meaning they’re more like humans than you may have realized.

    Elephants respect their elders

    Elephant “respect” comes through age and wisdom – not aggression. Many elephants follow around the oldest female because she knows where to find food and shelter.

    People of all ages are fascinated by elephants. Discover some interesting facts about them to celebrate!

    These captivating and social animals live between 60 to 70 years. Like humans, elephants develop remarkably close family bonds. Two species, the African Savannah and Asian elephant exist. However, recently scientists suggested that the African Forest elephant is also a unique species and not a subspecies.

    Each day, poachers kill approximately 100 elephants for their ivory, meat, bones, and skin.

    These pachyderms are closely related to rhinoceroses and hippos. In fact, pachyderm describes thick-skinned animals with hooves or nails similar to hooves. While the African elephants outgrow the Asian, both hold the prize for the largest land mammal on earth. However, there are some differences between the species, though.

    Differences Between African & Asian Elephants:

    The African elephant grows larger ears.

    In the Asian species, only the male grows tusks. However, in the African, both male and female elephants grow tusks.

    One of the things that fascinate us about elephants is their trunk. It’s super sensitive. At the end, a small finger-like appendage grows. The appendage, also known as a lobe, gives elephants the ability to pick up small twigs, bits of grass and other items. On the Asian elephant, the lobe grows at the top tip of the trunk. However, the African elephant grows a lobe at the top and bottom, giving it extra pinching dexterity.

    Both species live in herds. The herds are led primarily by a matriarch and comprised of sisters, daughters and their young. As the males grow, they move off on their own. Asian herds tend to be smaller than African herds.

    While both species are herbivores, their diets vary based on the available habitat.

    Elephants are spirited and playful animals. Have you ever seen them frolic in the water?  And they will defend their own with their mighty tusks. Whether foraging for food or digging a mud hole, their tusks are vital for survival. Since hunters value the ivory more than the life of the elephant, they endanger the continued existence of these majestic animals.

    Do elephants never forget? Well, studies have determined that elephants have excellent memories. They remember vital locations over large areas of land. Elephants also show recognition of faces and other elephants even after a long time has passed. And while we may be forgetful from time to time, we don’t recommend forgetting this holiday!

    Read more about elephants’ armed protection and nature conservation in Kenya here.

    And check our author’s column about eco-warriors in African style at Virunga National Park here.

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